The 10 most important players on the San Francisco 49ers
1. LB NaVorro Bowman (44 points)
2. T Joe Staley (43)
3. RB Carlos Hyde (31)
4. WR Pierre Garcon (29)
5. DE DeForest Buckner (27)
6. DE Arik Armstead (18)
7. DT Solomon Thomas (16)
8. S Eric Reid (14)
9. S Jimmie Ward (11)
10. C Jeremy Zuttah (10)
A lot of unknowns in San Francisco this year, which may be why two members of the old guard, NaVorro Bowman and Joe Staley, topped the rankings. (Granted, Bowman’s health is an unknown, too.) Staley received just one first-place vote (Single), but he ranked No. 3 or higher on all five ballots. Bowman claimed a pair of first-place votes (Feldman and Vrentas).
The remaining No. 1 slots belonged to DeForest Buckner (Kaplan) and Carlos Hyde (Jones). The opinions on Hyde ranged from the top position to No. 9, but he appeared on every single NFC West ballot.
That was not the case for rookie Solomon Thomas, who was snubbed by Feldman and only climbed into the top five on Kaplan’s ballot.
Emily Kaplan defends her ballot: The 49ers are rebuilding, and that means they need young talent to construct the roster around. Buckner may have been drafted by the previous regime, but if he breaks out in 2017 (as many predict he will) the defensive lineman will set the tone for the Lynch-Shanahan era.
Other 49ers receiving votes: FB Kyle Juszczyk (six points), LB Reuben Foster (six), LB Malcolm Smith (five), TE Vance McDonald (five), LB Ahmad Brooks (four), RB Joe Williams (two), WR Marquise Goodwin (one)